The Warm-Up: Griezmann becomes the Mad King
Advance warning: the opening section might make little sense to anyone who hasn’t caught up with a certain TV show. To be honest, we’re not even sure it makes sense to those who have.
WEDNESDAY’S BIG STORIES
The writing in Season II of La Decision is awful. We don’t care that Antoine Griezmann decided to set fire to the dreams of every Atletico Madrid fan, we just care about how he got to this point.
It all feels rushed. The Frenchman was cast as the pioneer, proving that in an age of money-hungry men you could achieve glory the right way. Not even a year has passed since he was wheeled out in a documentary, fretting over whether to swap Atletico Madrid for Barcelona. He stayed true to his principles, saying:
" Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Liverpool, Bayern Munich – they’re all just spokes on a wheel. This one’s on top, then that one’s on top and on and on it spins crushing those on the ground… I’m not going to stop the wheel; I’m going to break the wheel. "
Griezmann was meant to herald a new era of football, where loyalty was rewarded with trophies. But he’s slowly swayed from that path – a once innocent man now valuing personal success over the greater good. He’s still hurting from Atletico fans booing him in last year’s Europa League final despite being man of the match, hurting that other players are regarded more highly despite his heroic decision to stay put. He's reached a sad conclusion: he will never be loved in the Spanish capital. It's time to make them fear him instead.
(If that made no sense: Griezmann is about to pop €120m in the Atletico vaults to activate his own release clause and set course for Barcelona. Maybe we should have just written that...)
Never trust defenders
'When I grow up I want to be a defender.'
Words that have never, ever been uttered. You only end up in defence after screwing your 400th consecutive shot over the neighbour's fence or after back-to-back sportsmanship (aka taking part) awards. West Bromwich Albion forgot about this at the worst possible time. Here are their first four penalty takers from last night’s Championship play-off semi-final with Aston Villa:
- Mason Holgate: centre-back.
- Ahmed Hegazi: centre-back.
- Tosin Adarabioyo: centre-back.
- Kieran Gibbs: left-back.
They lost, obviously.
Although Villa would be wise to remember that they actually haven’t earned promotion yet…
The new Pelé
Spare a thought for Anthony Martial. OK, he’s been hit with the dreaded accusation of having a poor attitude, but the humiliation he’s facing this glorious Wednesday morning goes far beyond that.
Confused? Apparently, the Frenchman is sticking around at Old Trafford because Manchester United’s co-chairman Joel Glazer considers him… wait for it… OK, you’ve probably guessed from the header… ‘the club’s Pelé’. Really.
Two problems with that: a) Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants him gone, and b) he’s not Pelé (the only name the Warm-Up is prepared to copy and paste from Wikipedia to get the accent on the final 'e').
Good luck, Anthony. The mockery will be merciless.
HEROES & ZEROES
Hero: Frenkie De Jong
Imagine getting this reception from your club despite quitting after one proper season. Frenkie De Jong with a masterclass on keeping the fans onside.
Zero: Antoine Griezmann
We’ve run out of time, so just read the opening section again.
IN THE CHANNELS
Good news, sports fans. We’ve found a clip that shoehorns in today’s cover star with the one relevant remaining club match of the season. It’s Atletico Madrid v Tottenham in the European Cup Winners’ Cup final – a full 56 years to the day ago. Without spoiling it, Spurs win 5-1.
LANG, LANG, LANG (first name Jack) will be here with tomorrow's festivities.